Chronicle 6 TRIALS OF HASLEM

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                    the heft and the edge                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     26/5/2017 wkj fantasy
 

 

 

 

 

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AN EPISODIC HISTORY OF ASTERANOR

The count of years here follows the standard used in The Chronicle of Errensea where  dates are counted from the occasion of the Second Foundation of the Collegium Magi.  Dates prior to this event are commonly given as xxxxAF (Antare Fundatum); dates following this event are given as xxxxPF (Postare Fundatum). Dates Postare Fundatum are accurate; dates Antare Fundatum become less reliable the further we journey into the past.

THE TRIALS OF HASLEM

1574

PF

Haslem 4
Haslem 2

MAP   SE

Suppression of the Twoers on Lindis.  It is hard to understand what was at the root of the new troubles that beset the Isle of Temples in this period. Theological dispute was ever present upon Lindis but though often bitter it rarely led to violence. But in 1574 the Church of the One Making gained precedence in the Council of Lindis and, some thought, began to abuse their authority. Accusations of financial irregularities dogged them.  The followers of the Church denied these accusations, loudly, at all opportunities, while followers of other Churches chose to differ. No Church was more vocal in the condemnation of the Oncers than the Church of the Second Chance, the Twoers. The Council began to place strictures on the freedoms of the Twoers, referring to them as trouble makers and rebels. How they managed to bring other Churches around to their point of view is hard to say but many suspected that it was more a matter of financial reward than morality. Many arrests were made; those not arrested demonstrated their opinions in the streets. That this dispute should escalate at this point was perhaps unsurprising. That Oncers should gather together to drive Twoers into their temples and then set fire to them was beyond all expectation. It is a blessing that Haslem had reached the Island from Errensea at a critical juncture in these events. And it is an interesting point to note I think that Haslem’s reputation throughout Asteranor altered irrevocably on this day. Previously he was considered wise, learned, humane, energetic. From this point on he was known primarily for his blazing anger.

On May 14th 1574 Haslem restored order.

 

1602

PF

Dragons 5
Dragons 3

MAPS
NW
SW

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Artis 3rd – the Dragon King; The Pigs of Avenna.  Artis 1st had been something of an empire builder in that certainly he grew the nation of Aegarde into the greatest nation of Asteranor – in area at least if not in power. On the day of his coronation, Mircus Wiegler, previously Governor of Avenna, took the name Artis 3rd in memory of that earlier King, giving indication of the direction of his policies. It is an interesting point to make that in history many leaders fail to make the impact they intend. Artis 3rd is not remembered as an empire builder but as the first “Dragon King” of Aegarde.  But his title was not as grand as it might seem.

His primary target for expansion was the land of the Kellestanis, a race of people happy within themselves and disinclined to fight wars. For many years he attempted to persuade them into an “alliance” with the Aegardean nation but they declined the offer. He sent in then an army, not on a footing of war but rather to display to the Kellestanis the power of Aegarde. “What if the Masachean Empire were to rise again?” his legates asked, “What if the Medeans became aggressive? What if the dragons begin to take more than their due? Would it not be best to have a strong army to defend you?” The Kellestanis ridiculed these suggestions and especially the idea that they should ever need protection from the dragons with whom they had been living in peace for their entire existence.

The suggestion is that Artis took a notion then that the key to annexing ‘peacefully’ the Kellestani lands might be to rouse the dragons of the Dedicae against them. The fact is that he knew very little indeed about the dragons. Several had come close to the army sent into Kellestan but had remained aloof. His general reported the matter back to Artis mentioning that the beasts, though magnificent and individually powerful were of course scared of so mighty a force as he commanded that they dared not think of attack.

Intrigued by this report Artis himself came up into the north to see these beasts for himself.  He had ever been a hunting man. With his general he contrived a means of luring several passing dragons into a trap involving catapults and netting. What would it be to capture such a beast? Artis’ interest in Kellestan waned in the light of this new occupation. In the end Artis’ attempts proved fruitful though several hundreds of cattle and at least seventy men were sacrificed along the way. After several failures Artis eventually captured two dragons, putting iron collars on their necks (this is where most of the men died, the two wizards in Artis’ company failing miserably to control the beasts) and chaining them to a rock.

It is not recorded what was spoken between Artis and his wizards and the dragons but it seems that an understanding was reached between all parties. The dragons actually agreed to accompany Artis to Garassa, even submitting to the idea of walking there rather than flying. In 1602 Artis 3rd returned to his capital in all glory with two live dragons in the van of his army.  That neither he nor his army had achieved the purpose for which they had set out was forgotten: Aegarde had a Dragon King – did not that make him the greatest ruler of Asteranor and Aegarde its greatest nation?

For two years the dragons remained in Garassa, amusing themselves in conversation with the many people who came to visit them.  For it was quickly understood that the dragons were far from being the beasts Artis had originally thought them.  They were intelligent, philosophical, artistic creatures.  They taught the Garassans a form of chess still played to this day. A great pavilion was made for them in a pleasant park in the centre of the city, their chains and collars were removed. In all respects they seemed friends to mankind.

It was on a fine summer’s day in 1604 that they flew up into the air, a breathtaking sight for the onlookers, set fire to the pavilion and then settled upon the King’s Palace, dismantling the structure wall by wall until they had Artis cowering before them.  It is said that he begged piteously for mercy not really comprehending that Dragons have never understood a sense of mercy. The dragons each eat one half of him and then flew off back to the reeks unperturbed by their sojourn in the lands of men. The names of these dragons were Cadordag and Ro’aggagroach.

It is worth mentioning in passing that Artis’ aim of drawing Kellestan into union with Aegarde was eventually achieved and indeed by his original plan. Dragons made punitive forays into Kellestan on a regular basis for many years to come.  Kellestani’s had no way of protesting their complete innocence in regard to the dragon hunt. Eventually a submission was made to the court in Garassa offering Kellestani allegiance in return for the same form of recognition as given to the Drafasians and Valdesians, and for protection in the dragon war that was to come. The new King in Garassa was bemused by the latter requirement. It was true that the dragons now seemed to range wider in their search for a kill and that they had occasionally taken cattle and horses from the stocks of the Dukedoms but nothing more than that. The leader of the Kellestanis shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes it is said at the foolishness of these southern Aegardeans but the deal was done and in 1622 Kellestan became a Dukedom of Aegarde.

 

A curious development also occurring during the brief reign of Artis 3rd was a matter of trade. Back in the early days of the Empire of the Blood the Matagordans refused all trading relationships with the Empire. However they would not abandon their friends the Sullinese and in secret in those years sent much provision and even weaponry across the river. As the unforgiving years of Empire rolled by this secret bounty became a matter of trade, and that trade become normalised and before the end of Empire the Matagordan blockade was a thing of the past. But it was easy to distinguish between the Medean traders of the Western Empire and the Masachean traders of the East.  For the traders of the East wanted nothing so much as they wanted pigs. It was said that the trade was driven by the High Priest himself; it was said that the pigs were for the consumption of the eternals of the Blood Magi of Nai’vedya. None of this made any sense to the Aegardeans but that did not matter: Aegarde was full of pigs and the Masacheans offered to pay high prices – so much so in fact that the price of pigs in the home market increased and pork became a rare treat.

In the years following the expulsion of the Masacheans the trade declined, not for the want of the product but because communications with Masachea were severed. But years roll by and wherever there is a market mankind will seek it out.  The Sullinese re-established the trade as it was in the past. They discovered that actually, though all kinds of pig meat were popular with the common people of Masachea, not all varieties of pig were required in the capital by the priests. Always they valued most highly a breed of large white pigs that the Aegardeans named Djani , for it was a matter of tradition that this breed was brought over the Sentinel Mountains into the Avenna region by Bulidzhani traders. It is thought now that the breed came into Asteranor long years in the past when the Herskerhavs captured Sullinoreans to be their slaves and brought with them their livestock also.

In 1589 representatives of the High Priest came to King Artis 3rd because they had been told that he still held extensive lands in the Avenna region and was a key factor in the husbandry of Djani pigs. A great deal of gold found its way into the King’s personal treasury and the regular supply of Djani into Nai’vedya became established. This trade lasted for many years after Artis’ unfortunate demise and indeed Masachean demand for the pigs has continued even unto the present. Some have voiced concern over that fact.

 

1666

PF

MAPS
tribal
SE

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The Sundering of River’s Twist.   For all of known history River’s Twist or Vuelta nestled in a circle of land made by the meandering of the Hypodedicus, almost an island but connected to the Sullin Part of Pars by the narrow strip of earth that kept the two great bends of the River apart. But this strip suffering constant erosion by the power of the mighty flood became ever narrower as the years progressed. By the time of the early 1600’s merchants and travellers alike could no longer trust their lives to taking the road through to the city, so pitted and broken had it become on both sides. Instead a double cable ferry had been strung across the stream slightly to the north of the first twist and this now carried all the wealth of trade from West to East and East to West.

In the spring of 1666 the increased waters of a heavy melt in the High Dedicae caused not only the flooding of Riverport, washing away the greatest part of the timber warehousing close by the harbour, but crashing down over the Eagle Falls the swollen waters created also a series of mighty bores that rose at the lip of Lake Lascalle and rolled down the River at speed. The already crumbling isthmus could not withstand the recurring impacts and finally the River broke through to carve out a new path.

A great bank of silt thrown up in the cataclysm cut-off the river from its twist at the southern end but it took many years of flood and retreat before the northern reach  became completely separated from the main course.

In our present day the City of River’s Twist lies yet between the horns of the lake left behind in this calamity, the shallows of the north western edge, traditionally the main crossing point of the River, are fordable still but a good hard road now leads into the city from the south and the ferry road departs by the northern gap; the cable ferry recently has been remade (3048) to the design of the Gotherian inventor Gaston Zollerine: now doubled in size it sends four huge rafts in constant motion across the flood powered solely by the force of the River itself. 

Politically, the Sundering brought years of bickering over the ownership of Vuelta to a close – it was no longer possible to claim that the city did not lie wholly within the natural borders of Aegarde. The Partain King signed a treaty relinquishing all claims of title or residence on “the Aegardean City of Vuelta del Rio, The River’s Twist.”

 

1799

PF

Dragons 6
Dragons 4

MAPS     
SW
NW

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The Third Dragon War.  The Kellestanis had been right to suggest that eventually there would be a third dragon war but it was many years in the making. It is obvious to any casual historian of mankind’s disputes with the dragons of the Dedicae that man is ever the prime mover. The dragons merely respond to the actions of men in whatever manner might seem to them apposite. So it was in the Third Dragon War.

As has been said the dragons continued to harvest the herds of animals in the northern reaches of the continent, ignoring utterly the needs, the concerns and even the existence of man. That they might occasionally travel into more southerly regions and even up onto the plateau was of no significance to them even if it might be terrifying to the residents of those regions. It is the case that Aegardeans, after the destruction of the Palace of Garassa and the consumption of the King became fearful of the dragons. Through the years the story of that event was repeated on and on and at times corrupted. Many Aegardeans now told a tale of sly and sinister creatures who seduced the King with a false promise of power, of their heinous betrayal and their wicked intent. Dragons became ever more unpopular.

The notion of a Dragon King ran through all boyish dreams and became mingled with tales of the Second Dragon War and Malachi the Dragon Slayer.  It is perhaps inevitable that eventually those boyish dreams might infect an heir of the throne so deeply he might think to claim those titles for himself whenever he became king. Malchius was that heir and that King.

He was not so foolish as to think to draw the wrath of the dragons down upon Garassa but in a display of arrogant majesty he fortified the cities of New Eszola and Ciudad Valdez and declared to the people of those cities that never again would they suffer predation by dragons of the Dedicae. That the citizens did not want those fortifications and trembled at the thought of offending the dragons, it mattered not one whit to Malchius.

He ordered the production of many hundreds of Dragonbows, he repeated Artis’ feat of capturing live dragons, he went further than Artis in his torture of those dragons – ostensibly to gain knowledge of the true combined strength of dragonkind - and in their incarceration deep under the foundations of his palace. Any passing dragon was shot at, occasionally some were injured. He set wizards to make spells of confusion and soldiers ready to take advantage of that confusion.

What Malchius had to gain by this campaign has been much debated.  Was it merely a desire to prove himself the mightiest of Aegardean Kings; was it the product of the some illness – it was rumoured he suffered fits and strange symptoms of the bladder and bowel; was it simple badness? Agents of the Council of Errensea came to visit the King on many occasions seeking to dissuade him from such a foolish course. They condemned the wizards in his pay – wondering whence they came for they were not of the School of Errensea. But for all their protestation Malchius continued upon his course of confrontation.

The fighting of the Third Dragon War of 1799 lasted much longer than the previous encounters for Malchius had put his defences in order long before the dragons became enough provoked to respond. According to The Chronicle 74 dragons were killed.  And more than thirty thousand men and women.

Ciudad Valdez was burned to the ground; New Eszola was spared only by the intervention of Haslem. Malchius was removed from office and his wizards were driven out of Garassa never to return.

But even with all this the War was not done.

 

1800

PF

Haslem 5
Haslem 3

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Haslem becomes Taprod of Errensea.  The protection of New Eszola had been a feat nearly too much for Haslem though he was at the height of his personal power. In part the willingness of the residents to overrule Malchius’ general and to throw out all of the weaponry that threatened the dragons, now filling the skies above them, came to the great wizard’s aid. Much of what he achieved was through negotiation. But the drain on his power in the first few hours of the attack had been nearly the death of him. Returning to Errensea after the peace was made between all parties, and this owing more to the growing boredom of the dragons with the entire exercise than anything else, Haslem determined that never again would mankind be under such a threat that Errensea could not respond fully.

He created then the Spell of Gathering by which the combined power of all the properties of the Collegium, and at need the combined power of all the wizards of the Collegium, could be held by one man wherever he might be.  This was a terrible spell that could make the carrier of all that power – the Taprod of that power – could make him the most powerful being upon all Earnor excepting only the Greatest of Gods. Of course he would not wield that power at all times and he must be judicious in the timing and degree of usage. It was a spell that only the most powerful of wizards could wield, or indeed survive. Over the years the office of Taprod became institutionalized with the most powerful urged to take on incumbency of the spell even if there were not any current need, for it was clear the world could throw up any form of threat at any time. With a Taprod in place whatever menace might come forth the High Council would be ready with an answer. 

By the end of the year the spell was established and Haslem took upon himself the mantle of power. Armed with this power he travelled to the Reeks and began long discussions with the dragons.

 

1838

PF

Dirios 3
Dirios1

MAP   NW

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The Kellinghalle Invasion of the Dirios’darfod; the Dukedom of Terremark.  After the overthrow of Malchius the people of Aegarde as a nation wished only for peace and a time to recover.  The southern regions felt great shame and anger at the deeds done in their name, the generals of Malchius’ were forced to resign, the senators who had done nothing to rein-in the King’s blatant abuse of his power were condemned as cowards and replaced. But all that retribution was as nothing to the survivors of the two dukedoms. The people of Valdesia and Drafasia were all but immobilized by loss and grief. The utter devastation of the major towns ruined the economy; the poisoning of the fields and the scattering of the herds made life almost impossible. The relief of the dukedoms was organized by the wizards of Errensea but achieved by the combined efforts of men and women from Matagorda and Garassia, from Bulidzhan and the Fat Thousands. It was only with this constant support, for several years, that the Valdesians and Drafasians eventually found the strength to regroup and to rebuild their lives.

At Haslem’s suggestion Ciudad Valdez was rebuilt not as a fortified city but rather as city of gardens and open spaces: a place of beauty that could never again be seen as any form of threat. The surviving Valdesians  took up Haslem’s suggestion with humility; together with the Drafasians, with the help of the Kellestanis, they renewed themselves and renewed their relationship with the fields and the herds and the skies, and, yes, also with the dragons.

The dragons appeared equally unaffected by the both the initial suffering and the subsequent recovery. They reverted to their normal practices once more.

But while the war seemed to have brought together the whole of Aegarde in the face of such terrible adversity in an admirable display of fellow feeling, the goodwill did not extend beyond one particular border of their lands. A deepened distrust of and dislike for the Cymrais of s’Darfod spread through the whole country. In the eyes of the Aegardeans the Cymrais had sided not with mankind in the dispute but with the dragons.  Their emblem had long been the dragon rampant, their wise men were rumoured to have had regular converse with the dragons; and the Cymrais would in no way consider giving any form assistance to Malchius throughout the course of the war, guarding their own borders not against the intrusion of dragons but against Malchius’s forces – even when those soldiers were fleeing the dragons in fear of their lives. And they failed to offer any help after the war was done.

The bad feeling that this betrayal of mankind had provoked among the common people of Aegarde at that time lingered long and festered in many hearts.  So much so that when the King Orguz Fallani had died without heir after his long and largely peaceful reign, and elections were to be held in Senate in the choosing of a new king, one of the key issues brought into the hustings was the need for a resolution of affairs between Aegarde and the Cymrais. It is unfortunate that the more extreme views held by some candidates became popular. King Redus Vintolan was extremely nationalistic, a master of rhetoric and extremely cowardly. He roused up the people of Aegarde against the nation of the Cymrais but refrained from any thought of invasion. In his own right.

Instead, hearing of the troubles of the Kellinghalle family, long held to be the pre-eminent family of the Kelling Isles, in their increasingly acrimonious dispute with the Sondrehalles, Redus made representations to the head of the family, one Kjartan Fellson. He made an offer of support, in financial terms, for an expedition that the Kellinghalles might make into the Dirio’sdarfod, and promised a Dukedom if their expedition proved successful. The Kellinghalles were numerous (one of the reasons for dispute upon the Isles) and they were extremely warlike, counting the exercise of arms the clear purpose of man’s existence upon Earnor; the Cymrais were descended from a warrior tribe themselves and were fiercely independent but all their attention had been on protecting their southern borders and they had no expectation of an invasion by sea.  It was a bloody encounter but the element of surprise gained the Kellinghalles so much territory that the attack was decisive.  The subsequent ruthless oppression and the execution of their leaders completely overthrew the spirit of the Cymrais and many of them resigned themselves to living with the new order. But there were some groups of Cymrais, (whom the Kellinghalles had taken to calling “the welsh” – or as we would say: “the foreigners”) who would not countenance the notion that their arrogant so-called masters might so cheaply have everything as they would have it.  Constant if sporadic rebellion made for a country in constant posture of war. The irony is that such a posture was exactly as the Kellinghalles would have it.  If there had been no one to fight within their borders they would have had to travel beyond them. The Kellinghalles named their new Dukedom the Terremark.

 

1952

PF

Haslem 6
Haslem 4

MAP   NW
 

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Dragons 7
Dragons 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Progress

The Creation of Gothery and The Oath.  For some thirty years Haslem had given his attention to the Nation of the Seven Pars – mostly now shortened in common parlance to Pars – as he tried to promote a new desire for what he called progress.  It is perhaps hard for us to understand why that word was so hard for the Partians to understand as Haslem understood it.  Had they not made progress in bringing peace to their land and prosperity that ran in tune with the seasons? Had they not an economy that kept them at the centre of all that happened upon the continent without them being subject to external influence? Was this progress towards the peace they had once enjoyed before the horrible years of the Empire not enough?

In short: no. Haslem wanted more from them. Haslem had come to believe that mankind must move on from what it had so far achieved in peril of an uncertain future. Perhaps echoes of the deep past even now had begun to trouble his dreams.

Haslem found support in the second heir to the Partain throne: Banya Imperani. He was an intelligent man, wise enough to realise that his brother would make a very good and long-lived King of Pars and free enough from the constraints that bound his brother for him to take up Haslem’s ideas and begin to dream of a new path they might take. It is a moot point as to which of the two came up with the idea of founding a new country on the Aegardean plateau. It was certainly Haslem who came up with a plan to achieve that foundation.

As has been said, the dragons after the trauma of the Third Dragon War returned to their ways: that is they continued to overfly the northern reaches taking food wherever they had a mind to take it.

Despite the renewal among the Valdesians and Drafasians that had led them to live more in tune with the world around them instead of trying to impose themselves upon it, the fact that a man could not guarantee his livestock would be immune from predation made for uncertainty, some small amount of fear and the possibility of bankruptcy.

On the plateau, mostly in the more fertile southern and eastern edges Aegardeans of varied heritage lived productive and happy lives. Descendents of the Gothae that had come to the plateau in various waves throughout history, the last of these pushed into occupation of the marsh region on the edge of the Riversea, had recently taken to mining in the central and northern regions of the plateau, somehow discovering that deposits of iron ore and of coals lay beneath the surface in great seams. It is known that the High Council had wizards working with them for that period at Haslem’s behest.

What Haslem did was to invent a complex arrangement by which a new state, to be named Gothery, would be created with Banya as its King and this state would encompass the whole of the plateau. Banya would come from Pars with many people of like mind to him, looking for a new challenge. The Gothaen descendents were happy with this notion for many of the newcomers would be people come of the same group of ancient tribes as themselves and would help to make them a dominant people rather than the minority they had become. The Aegardeans of the south and west of course were less than happy at the prospect of this new nation and poured scorn upon the whole idea, confident that the Aegardean King would in no way consider such a diminution of Aegardean territory. But Haslem had an answer for them. He pointed to uninhabited lands south of the Lights and west of the Reeks commonly known as the dragonreaches: a highly fertile area completely uninhabited because it suffered the heaviest predations of the dragons. If dragons visited Valdesia at a rate of ten episodes in a year the dragonreaches might suffer 100 episodes.

After his exertions in ending the Third War Haslem, anticipating future need, had extracted a promise from Dagraeda and all the elders among the dragons that when he asked for their help they would not ignore
him. Dragons had counted themselves immune to the excesses of mankind; they had all the power they might require to keep man in his place and they were happy to keep to theirs. But it is suggested that seeing the death of so many of their brothers and sisters in the recent conflict had caused doubt to enter their thinking.  What if, Haslem asked, mankind became so numerous that it might not rue the loss of a hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand so long as ultimately it prevailed? What if mankind became so powerful, its weapons so deadly, that not even dragons could stand in its path?

And so Haslem had made an agreement that if the dragons would be bound by an Oath to keep their flights and their feeding to lands agreed between all parties, leaving clear and free the territory now known as the dragonreaches, then Haslem would make arrangement with the Aegardean Crown and Government, and with also the proposed Crown and  Government of the Gotherian Nation that would enshrine in their laws a firm and permanent contract that never again would those nations take up arms against the dragons of the Dedicae for as long as they might exist.

It is often said that contracts are merely expedient words that can be ignored at a later date as and when it pleases those people supposedly bound. What Haslem proposed however was something much more binding than expedient words. With the entire power of Errensea at his disposal he had worked upon a means to make a contract impossible to deny. In sum he balanced The Oath of the Dragons against a Spell of Binding.

And Haslem had his way.

The Aegardeans displaced from the plateau occupied the extremely fertile and more comfortable land now known as The Hundred Kingdoms; the dragons kept to a wide stretch of land to the east and south of the Reeks commonly referred to as The Oathlands; and Banya with his people came over the Riversea from Pars and joined with the Gothaen people to found the nation of Gothery. A small town of the departed Aegardeans was occupied, and re-planned and named Astoril and at the centre of it the foundations of Banya’s Palace were laid.

And as dictated by the terms of The Oath, the King of Aegarde let Haslem open up the Deeps of the Palace of Garassa to release those dragons captured and ruined by Malchius one hundred and fifty years past. And it was only with this act that the Third Dragon War truly came to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilf Kelleher Jones
A Song of Ages